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Information Literacy: 05. Plagiarism

Strategies used to incorporate research skills for the College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Management.

What is Plagiarism

Broadly speaking, plagiarism refers to passing off others' ideas as your own. This can include purposeful and nefarious acts such as purchasing an essay on the internet or copying and pasting huge sections from resources.

Plagiarism can be more nuanced, and students may not know all aspects of what constitutes plagiarism. Here are some common examples of plagiarism: 

  • Not using quotation marks for a direct quotation
  • Paraphrasing but keeping the sentence almost exactly the same
  • Not citing all of your sources
  • Paraphrased work from others (including your own) without giving them credit
  • Forgetting to cite images, graphs, or video clips

 


Visit Willamette University's Plagiarism and Cheating Policy and Code of Conduct for additional info.

How to Avoid Plagiasism

These are the best ways for avoiding plagiarism:

  • Keep track of the sources you consult in your research
  • Paraphrase or quote from your sources
    • Quotes are using the author's exact words and appear in "quotation marks."
    • Paraphrasing restates someone else’s concepts in your own words and does not use quotation marks.
  • Credit the original author or works creator both in-text citation and as a reference list
    • In-text citations are within the body of your work or footnotes at the bottom of the page.
    • Reference lists, also known as bibliographies or works cited lists, are at the end of the paper.
  • Use the correct citation style
    • Style guides or manuals describe how to properly and consistently cite your sources of information, such as how to include an article's volume, issue, and page numbers.
    • Ask your instructor which style manual to use. 
    • Willamette's library provides online style guides, such as APA, MLA, and Chicago.

For additional info and examples, visit the San Jose State University Library guide on How to Avoid Plagiarism.

Things to Keep in Mind

  • When in doubt, ask!
    The Writing Center, the librarians, and your professor are all great places to ask if you are unsure about what plagiarism is, why it's important, or how to avoid it. 
  • Citing gets easier the more you practice.
    Just like other parts of research, citing appropriately and avoiding plagiarism is a skill.

 


There are many positive benefits to appropriately citing materials you use.

  • It separates your own thoughts from others
  • It helps readers see and retrieve the sources you used
  • It shows how your resources fit together as a scholarly conversation
  • It gives credit to those who create the work
  • It shows that you can synthesize the ideas and opinions of others
  • It marks you as an ethical learner
  • It demonstrates that you are careful, thoughtful, and can think critically
  • It helps you avoids disciplinary actions related to plagiarism

Content from the U Tennessee.

Real World Examples

Think plagiarism is just an issue for college students writing research papers? Hardly! Here are real-world examples of celebrities being accused of plagiarizing: 

Ann CoulterBarack ObamaColdplay

Test Yourself

Want to test your knowledge of Plagiarism?

Take this 12-question quiz designed by the San Jose State University Library (15 mins to complete). Enter "000000000" to take the test as a guest. 

 

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